Tuesday, August 19, 2008


There is a house in New Orleans
They call the rising sun
And it's been the ruin of many a poor boy
And God I know I'm one...

That first stanza from an American South folk song made famous by The Animals was a Samahang Dilim favorite. It blended well with their lethal potion of beer-gin and some rolled grass. That was their ritual in Almaguer. Slow and easy.

We flew in to New Orleans after a week in Washington DC and the change is like a blast of hot air after a long winter. There seems to be more clutter, and the city looked poorer. But exotic street names like Poydras and Tchoupitoulas emanate life and excitement that promised to be way over Washington DC's bland alphabetic and numeric versions.

Louisiana is one of the poorest American states and it shows in New Orleans: the images and smell of poverty are more pronounced in the spirits wrapped in brown paper bags and police rousing a man sprawled in the middle of Canal Street. Like Washington DC's homeless, they are mostly African-Americans. The social structure is defined in the lost and abandoned houses of post-Katrina 9th Ward along the Missisippi River versus the graceful mansions of Esplanade Avenue and St. Charles Street that were spared from the floods because they were on higher ground and built of stronger materials.

I came searching for The House Called the Rising Sun and combed the streets of the French Quarter, rode the streetcar through St. Charles Street and back, crossed the Missisippi to Algiers, and left a dime at Marie Laveau's tomb. That's what I did not tell a Nepalese colleague when she asked me why I prefer walking alone.

Loiusiana is also i_travel_east --- novo vizcayano and flickrista par excellence --- who I was expecting to do a shoot out. But no dice. He's going to LA like Wilfredo Pascual is going to Nepal and Southeast Asia, and missing shooting churches in San Francisco with eman59. I did sipped a tall full Hurricane at Pat O'Brien's in their honor, and had a fleeting shot of a church in Baton Rouge for i_travel_east.

It's been easy in the Big Easy. We didn't mind being late for some appointnents. Bourbon Street's atmosphere of naughtiness is most welcome. The slow and easy phase is almost like Almaguer. But I failed to find the The House Called the Rising Sun. Perhaps because New Orleans is really one big house --- the ball and chain of most people there. By choice for some and because there's no other choice for others.

I left New Orleans reluctantly but relieved. That ain't easy but it is easy. On the way to the airport, I hummed a tune that evolved from our endless rendition of "The House of the Rising Sun" when we were walking the streets of Bambang a long time ago. My tribute for a wonderful week...

My father is James Taylor
My mother is Liz Taylor
And because I am a Filipino
My name is Jesus Sastre.

PHOTOS EXPLAINED (top to bottom):

(1) The French Quarter's Royal Street emptying into the "American Quarter" where it becomes St. Charles Street. It is one of New Orleans' oldest streets.

(2) An abandoned house in the 9th Ward --- the largest among the 17 New Orleans wards and the most severely hit by hurricane Katrina in 2005. It is poor compared to the elegance and grandeur of Esplanade Avenue and St. Charles Street. And it is home to the common people most of which are African-Americans. The 9th ward was innundated when storm surges from Lake Pontchartrain broke through the protection levees. Houses were swept and have never been rebuilt. Others were abandoned like shown here with red marks indicating it has been inspected by the National Guard.

(3) Elegant 19th century mansions with handcrafted wrought iron balconies line Esplanade Avenue which is the Millionaires' Row of the city's Creole population. The term Creole was first used to describe the descendants from the fusion of French and Spanish legacies but in recent times has become a description of African mestizos or mulattos.

(4) Elegant mansions line up the uptown of New Orleans' St. Charles Street --- the Anglophone section of the city. The street is a major thorougfare of the city's historic streetcar line and the route of its famous Mardi Gras.

(5) Rue Bourbon was named in honor of the French Royal family that was in power when the French Quarter was established at around 1718. Today, Upper Bourbon Street is the "naughty" part of the city with its numerous strip clubs.
(6) The city's famous and historic streetcars started operating in the early years of the 1800s. Since then, its regular operations was stopped only once during the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans' longest streetcar line is that for the St. Charles Avenue/Street where the plying cars have been declared as historic landmarks. (7) The Natchez used haul cargo and people upstream and downstream the Missisippi River. Today, tourists fill its deck to relive its glorious days.

(8) The Hurricane cocktail was invented by Pat O'Brien in the 1940s and has evolved into a famous New Orleans experience since then.

(9) A church as seen from the Louisiana Department of Public Health office in Baton Rouge. My tribute tofellow Novo Vizcayano, flickrista par excellence, and gay-yem i_travel-east who said it is the Cathedral of St. Joseph.

(10-11) The Cathedral of St. Louis is the oldest continuously operating cathedral in the United States. The first church was built in 1718 and later replaced by a brick structure in 1725 that was destroyed during the great fire of 1788. The present building was started to be constructed in 1789, completed in 1794, and elevated as a cathedral in 1793.

(12) The parish of The Church of the Most Holy Name of Jesus was established by the Jesuits in 1886. The church is located along St. Charles Street between the universities of Loyola and Tulane.

(13) One of the numerous churches along St. Charles Street. I took this photo while riding the streetcar.
(14) Residents of St. Charles Street protested the building of a Mcdonald's in their neighborhood because it will be like a sore thumb sticking out in the midst of their elegant and graceful colonial houses. So the design was altered to make the restaurant look like a church and blend into its environment. Hence, the establishment of the "parish of St. Mac's".


Anonymous said...


I regret that I missed you while you were here in Louisiana, kailyan! I hope you experienced our Great State with the hospitality, colour, fun, and celebration that Louisiana is very well-known for! Les bons temps roulez!!!

I shall see you in the Philippines. In our beloved Nueva Vizcaya, come next year!

More power to you, kabsat! Mabuhay ka!!!

Ge / i_travel_east

jun of zerogravity said...

metaphor/figure of speech yata yung house of the rising sun e :p